Art and Architecture: An Interview with Brad Cloepfi (Part I), PORT, August 11, 2008



Allied Works Architecture
Maryhill Overlook, 1999
Photo by Sally Schoolmaster 

“Brad Cloepfil is the principal of Allied Works Architecture in Portland, Oregon. Allied Works is a nationally recognized architecture firm that has recently completed projects like the extension to the Seattle Art Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis and is currently finishing the Museum of Art & Design at 2 Columbus Circle in New York. PORT recently sat down with him to ask about the impact artists have had on his work.


PORT: How did your early experience with art feedback into your own creative process as an architect?


Brad Cloepfil: When I was younger, I tended to be influenced by the raw experience of the work itself. At first, I wasn’t even aware of who created a work, whether it was Richard Serra or Robert Irwin, it was the experience of the work itself that was important. The experience makes you ask yourself about the spatial quality of that type of work and about the ideas that those artists are exploring. It just resonates with you. I wasn’t seeing anything comparable in buildings. It just seems like those guys understood more about the intentions of the 19th and 20th century architecture than the architects did. They had clarity of thought and a practice that was built on the exploration of material that became very important to me. The singular act of focus to create a work of art was really impressive. I saw Richard Serra’s Circuit at MoMA and it is just four pieces of steel propped up in the corners of the room. The physical presence and the mass of the steel and its ability to radiate space into the small gallery was for me a very architectural experience that I could relate to much easier than the so-called “architecture” that was being produced at that time. The experience is about the material and the way that the material is made. It was also easier to learn from the artists because their work is so pure. By that I mean, the work that I was interested in was focused on the exploration of only one or two ideas…?”


PORT is dedicated to catalyzing critical discussion and disseminating information about art as lensed through Portland, Oregon.